I am out tonight recording the voiceover for a new official Burnley FC DVD – stay with me, stay with me, this is not another Burnley blog, I promise.
I’m just hoping I get back in time for Inside Sport on BBC1 at 1045, which has a feature on depression in sport.
From the trailers I have seen, with clips from cricketer Marcus Trescothick, boxer Frank Bruno and footballer Neil Lennon, it could be an important moment in the continuing efforts to break down the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
And given the recent suicide of depressive German goalkeeper Robert Enke, it could not be more timely in shining a light on mental illness in the macho world of professional sport. It holds such an important place in the national life, and is no different to any other in terms of having people with mental health problems.
BBC programmes won a stack of awards at the Mind Mental Health Media awards at BAFTA in Piccadilly last night, and their Headroom campaign has already made an important contribution to changing the way mental illness is covered and therefore discussed.
Newsnight, for a report on mental illness in Parliament, Radio 4’s You and Yours and the radio drama ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ for the mentally interesting, all received awards.
EastEnders received the Making a Difference award for their ongoing commitment to mental health issues. Actresses Lacey Turner and Gillian Wright, who play mother and daughter Stacy Branning and Jean Slater, both diagnosed with bipolar disorder, collected the award. I know EastEnders are on the shortlist for another one next week, at RADAR, because I am due to present it.
Last night I was also very proud to be on the receiving end, and pick up the award for best full-length documentary for my BBC2 film, Cracking Up, on my breakdown in 1986. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, and would like to, it is up in four parts in the vlog archive of the website.
One of the reasons I made the film, and why I am involved in the ‘Time to Change’ campaign, is that when I was recovering, I found it helped to know there were people out there who had been through something similar. The sports stars who speak out tonight will find all sorts of people coming up to them afterwards to say they, a friend, or a relative have had something similar happen to them.
It is why I sometimes think the ‘One in Four’ figure – one in four of us will directly experience some form of mental illness – may be a conservative estimate.
But as I said last night, I think we are potentially close to a tipping point in terms of having proper understanding of mental illness. The more that people speak out about it, the more normalised the debates should become so that eventually admitting a mental illness is no different to mentioning flu, cancer or a broken leg.
For the sake of completeness – SC4-BBC’s Welsh language soap Pobol Y Cwm won the Soap Award for its portrayal of post-natal depression. The Raising Public Awareness award went to the Health Promotion Agency in Northern Ireland for its ‘Don’t cover up your problems’ campaign targeted at young men to raise awareness of mental health and STV won the Drama category for the series Cracked set in a residential rehab clinic. The Young People’s Media award was won by Teachers TV/Mosaic Films for a series of short animated films narrated by young people who have experienced a range of mental health problems.
Channel 4’s ‘Insanity of war: Unreported world’ won the award for Short Television Documentary; reporter Seyi Rhodes reported from Sierra Leone where thousands of people have been left severely traumatised from the brutal conflict ten years ago, but where there is only one psychiatrist.
And the Speaking Out award went to Tom Perry, Alastair Rolfe and Mark Payge who spoke to the documentary Chosen about their experience of being abused as children at a prep school.